Monday, February 23, 2015

Adventure to Asia: Cambodia Pt.1

Thursday, July 24: Aranyaprathet and Siem Reap, Cambodia

After traveling for some hours we finally got to the boarder of Thailand and Cambodia. We were all on high alert because we knew they were going to try to scam us. We used this site and this site to help guide us. Once we got off the train we took tuk tuks to the border, and wouldn't you believe they tried to take us to the fake Cambodian Consulate. When we told our driver we wanted to go to the real one he made us get out right there, not that it was a far walk. It was literally right in front of us and took us about 50 steps. We finally got our whole group, and we went into the real consulate, which in itself was really complicated to figure out. We had to split up again to go through border control, and I almost thought I lost my sister and freaked out a bit, but it turned out she just went ahead because there were signs that said you weren't allowed to stand and wait.

I don't know if it was lack of sleep or just not being in a country where I know I can feel safe, but right from the start I didn't like Cambodia. There were so many little kids begging and roads weren't paved. I sound like a total rich brat, I know. Then the money situation really got me. They use both American dollars and Cambodian Riel, but they prefer American dollars, but it was so confusing trying to figure out what to get. It's convenient that they take American money, but things are also more expensive because most things start at $1 and if you know the value of the dollar back in the states you feel like you are being ripped off. My sister ended up getting Riel and I had dollars, and I decided I'd go to the ATM if I needed more. Then we all got a van with some other travelers and took a 2-3 hour drive to Siem Reap.

When we finally got to Siem Reap the van dropped us off where there were some tuk tuks. They had told us that our tuk tuk rides would be free when we first got in the van, but it turns out they were only free if you paid for a driver to take you around Angkor Wat. My sister and I refused and we said we were going to start walking and eventually he settled on 10,000 riel ($0.25). When we got to our hostel we showered, finally, then just relaxed and booked our tuk tuk ride for the next day. I ended up going to sleep so early because I hadn't slept in over 24 hours.

Friday, July 25: Siem Reap, Cambodia

We left around 10:15 to go to Angkor Wat which wasn't too far from our hostel, only about 10 minutes. I didn't know this before but Angkor Wat is actually a large area with a lot of temples, Angkor Wat being the largest of them. So, there are several tours you can choose from and we chose the one that took us to the most popular sites. At first we wanted to do a longer one to see it all, but honestly it drains you just going to see three. It was so hot and you can't wait shorts because it's a temple and the ground isn't even so you struggle with every step.... or maybe I'm just that out of shape.

I have so many pictures from Angkor Wat. I kind of just skimmed through and picked some, but I know I'm leaving so many out. When we got there there were so many beggars and children trying to sell stuff to us. One girl kept insisting we buy post cards from her. I said "maybe" just to get her off our backs and by the time we got out she remembered me and pretty much told me I was a horrible person. Oh well.

After we walked through Angkor Wat we found our tuk tuk driver and he took us to Tom Wat. Tom Wat is smaller but there are a lot more temples in the area so he dropped us off and we walked around. 
The last temple we visited was Ta Prohm Temple, which is better known as the "Tomb Raider" temple because it's the temple they used in the film. One thing I liked about this temple was that they were restoring it. They had pictures of what it looked like before and much of the temple was just piles of rock.
It took us a while to find our tuk tuk driver because we ended up going out the wrong entrance, and then he was sleeping so we didn't recognize him. When we got back to our hostel we showered because it's really dusty and we were sweaty from walking. For dinner we went to a restaurant called Marum, which trains street children to work in the restaurant business. It was mostly appetizers but also half priced drinks so we both got an orange julius type drink but with mango.

After dinner we walked to the other end of Siem Reap where the Old Market and Pub Street were. We went to a coffee shop called Joe 2 Go, which also helped people, but I don't know if it was street children or former prostitutes. There, we both ordered Thai teas (because we are obsessed) and I got a cookie. We walked around the market and bought some souvenirs. I needed money so we stopped at an ATM which gave me a $100 bill. I was so mad because many places don't even take $100 bills in America, but luckily it worked out. We really wanted to try Angkor beer so we ended the night at a bar which actually didn't even have Angkor beer. We got drinks anyways and then walked back to our hostel where we stayed the rest of the night.

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